My Artist's Way Toolkit Guide
TAB #1: MY CONTRACT
As a mark of commitment to yourself and this process, sign this contract acknowledging your intent to undertake a creative recovery.
TAB #2: THE ARTIST'S DATE
The Artist's Date is yet another tool in your arsenal as you navigate this process of creative renewal and discovery. A festive solo undertaking to explore something that excites or interests you, the Artist's Date is play. This word "play" is pivotal. Creativity comes forward by being coaxed, not bludgeoned. But how can "play" help you work on your art? Here is how.
With the Morning Pages we are sending. We are notifying the Universe of our likes and dislikes. We are, if you will, telegraphing. With the Artist's Date, we set our dial to receive. We allow ourselves to be receptive to inflow, no longer concerned with outflow.
It pays to think of the Artist's Date as one half "artist" and one half "date." By planning and executing these enticing adventures for ourselves, we are out to woo our own consciousness. I am often asked if Artist's Dates must really be undertaken alone and the answer to this question is yes. If we give in to the temptation to bring along a friend or lover on an Artist's Date we are not able to focus on our own inner world, we are focused outward. Go alone.
Use these weekly Artist's Date ideas as an invitation to open yourself to the world-to open your mind so that that it, in turn, can be available to inspiration. Perhaps some other idea for an activity will spring to mind. This is ok. But allow yourself this time each week to explore, to play, and, most of all, to be inspired.
TAB #3: ARTIST'S WAY EXERCISES
The Artist's Way is an experiential path. We awaken our creativity through using it, not through theory. Through the simple building blocks that are the exercises in this section of the Toolkit, you will learn to heal old wounds and move toward new horizons. You will examine and discard damaging mythology and painful personal experiences in the arts. An exercise at a time—one for each week of the year—you will learn how to construct a new and more positive life built on greater optimism and resiliency. You will not learn to be fearless, but you will learn to create despite your fears.
TAB #4: CREATIVITY PAGES
These pages will serve as your sanctuary as you navigate the process of creative recovery. Use them to record your hopes, fears, dreams, aspirations, and the simple daily flow of life. Most of all let them serve as a companion on your Artist's Way journey.
I want to point to a very exciting feature of these Creativity Pages: you can introduce visual elements of your choosing to these pages. Download a photograph of that mountain range you stood breathless before in New Mexico. Download the photograph of that little old woman you took sitting on a park bench in Central Park whose tranquil gaze made you stop and stare, imagining what the stream of her thoughts might be as she looked out at the world. Download a picture of the charcoal drawing that seemed to spring from the deepest recesses of your being this morning. Next, use these images to inspire what you write in your Creativity Pages. Please note that you also have the ability to select the perfect font and color for your words. In short, personalize these pages-make them your own.
TAB #5: CREATIVITY NOTES
If you are like me, your desk is cluttered with tiny little sticky notes and scraps of paper. A reminder to find that back issue of The New Yorker with the article on the Russian Ballet that you only managed to read the first paragraph of and to read the whole thing. The hurried recording of a song lyric that popped into your head on the way to work today-you still can't remember where exactly it comes from but the line stuck with you. Little bits of inspiration. Now you can quickly record these notes here in your Artist's Way Toolkit and come back to them later. Using the search function, you can use key words to find them. They will never be lost now these little fragments—and well they shouldn't be as they are the seeds for future creative projects.
Introduction to the Morning Pages
Morning Pages are one of your most powerful tools in this journey. Put simply, morning pages are three pages of longhand morning writing. They are to be written strictly off the top of your head. (No "real" writing please!) Your pages may sound whiny, grumpy, and even petty. Occasionally, a brilliant idea may sparkle through, but more often it will be "Need to do laundry, forgot to call my sister, wonder how Dad is."
And why do we do this? Once we get these muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes. We are more honest with ourselves and others, more centered, and more spiritually at ease. For this reason, I often say that morning pages are a form of meditation. You are writing down the "cloud" thoughts that drift across your mind. In writing them down, you clear them.
A day at a time, a page at a time, our Morning Pages help us clarify our vision of the world. We see what obstacles impede us, what roads are open to us. We become more alert to the shortcuts, switchbacks, and dangers of the trail. In short, we become present to our lives, at once more alive in guiding them and more receptive to signposts that indicate alternate routes. We become explores rather than mere tourists.
Notice how above I specified that these three pages should be written in longhand. They must. Why? Many have experimented with "cheating" on the computer, and the resultant pages simply are not the same. Like early maps, our cartography must be done by hand. Writing by hand yields us a handmade life. That is our goal with the Morning Pages so please, put down your laptop or iPad when you write your Morning Pages journal. For other times of the day or whenever you wish (except first thing!) you may utilize your full arsenal of electronic devices with the Creativity Pages you will find herein (see tab labeled Creativity Pages below). But let your Morning Pages be just this: written in longhand on paper of some kind.